September 7 shutdown in T&T, says unions

Shiraz Khan, president of the Sheep and Goat Farmers Association make a point during a press conference at (BIGWU) head office, Barataria, on Wednesday. Looking on at left is research officer of the (OWTU) Ozzi Warren and Lynsley Doodhai President Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA).

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) -On September 7, there may be no nurses in the hospitals, no maxi and taxi drivers on the roads and no teachers in schools as the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) has called on the workforce to engage in a day of “rest and reflection”.

The various unions representing nurses, teachers, drivers, farmers, communication workers, and several others this morning directed their membership to stay away from work next Friday in protest of the government’s decision to shut down the Petrotrin Point-a-Pierre refinery.

Speaking during a news conference at the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) headquarters in Barataria, the various union leaders said they stood in solidarity with the oil workers who have lost their jobs.

They warned the government to rethink the decision or risk starting a “war with labour”.

“We not going to take that damn stupidness from you, Rowley,” said President of the Farmers Union Shiraz Khan.

“September 7 is only the start.”

The Maxi Taxi Association indicated it members, too, would not be out on duty next Friday.

If this materialises, thousands of people who rely on maxi-taxi transport to get to work or school will be left stranded.

Idi Stewart, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) said nurses would be instructed to stay away from work if they could not get transport due to the maxi taxi shut down.

He said if the government responded in “words of war”, the unions would do the same.

“Because that is the only language you seem to understand. All unions will be uniting in this scenario.”

Parents, too, are being advised to keep their children at home next Friday.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai said TTUTA stands in solidarity with the oil workers and will participate in the shutdown.

“Schools will be devoid of teachers,” he declared.  “You touch one worker, you touch all workers.”